Explorer from Venice to Haifa
Overall the Explorer experience was very good, though similar in many ways to the other Regent ships.
The F1 cabin was excellent, roomy with a large balcony. Shower was good sized. There was a bathtub which I didn’t use. There were two sinks in the bathroom, making it very user-friendly for two people. There is no night light. For a ship filled with mostly older people, the lack of a night light seems hazardous and a lapse in planning. If the bathroom door is not closed, then the door to the cabin can hit the bathroom door when it is opened. There was already an area of damage to the paint on the cabin door caused by the doors colliding.
The ship was in great condition, of course. But in general, I was not enthralled with the decor. Some of the decor reminded me more of a casino rather than a luxury cruise or hotel setting. I realize others may not feel the same way. The varied colors of stone floors, walls, baths, etc in different parts of the ship, while perhaps beautiful in their individual setting, sometimes seemed to me as if the designers were not paying a lot of attention to the overall coherency of the design. The dark wood look on the walls lining hallways and various rooms had the look of man-made materials rather than real wood. Despite the slightly negative feel I had about the decor, after living on the ship for a few days one could more or less come to ignore it. I liked the photos that lined the hallways, though it would have been nice if the date, location, and photographer of the photo had been noted.
I found service throughout the ship to be excellent. Staff were pleasant, efficient, helpful and friendly. The food was also generally better than I have had on other Regent ships. The deck grill though was about the same variety and quality as other ships. The specialty restaurants were very good. Mostly we ate in Compass Rose. I thought that the new menu of choices of entrees and sauces worked well, though maybe on a longer voyage it could become a tad tedious. I did not encounter any prolonged waits for meals as other posters have noted on occasion.
Compass Rose reminded me a bit of a hotel ballroom with some exuberant lighting fixtures, again a style that I didn’t find particularly attractive. We never had to wait for a table for two during the 7 PM to 8 PM time when we dined. Service was excellent, prompt and friendly. The speciaty restaurants also were very good in terms of service and food. We didn't eat in Sette Mare. La Veranda has a good-sized outdoor area that is very pleasant for eating when the weather is good. The food in La Veranda is nicely presented in various serving sections so overall it avoids the long cafeteria-line look of other ships and the design seems more efficient for guests.
The arrangement of the pool deck struck me as being less desirable than the pool decks on the Voyager and the Mariner. The pool and hot tubs look very nice. The pool and the deck above are supplied with good size heavy lounges rather closely spaced. There is really no place to sit in an area open to the sky in a regular chair or at a table (except for the outside restaurant seating in La Veranda on the back of the deck). The dining tables on the pool deck are what I would describe as cafeteria-style tables closely arranged in areas covered by the deck above. On one side of the grill the recessed area has more comfortable chairs and “coffee tables”. The problem is that the chairs are so close together and the tables so large that it is difficult to maneuver through the area. The other problem is that the recessed area is only open on one end toward the pool so when it was warm and sunny the space can be too hot because there is no way to open a window for additional air circulation. It also is not possible to walk completely around the ship on the outside deck so passengers can’t see the view from the front of the ship as they can on Regent’s other ships and a circular exercise path isn’t available.
The Constellation Theater is similar to the other ships. Overall, it felt smaller, but that may just be the effect of the decor. There were small recessed lights that I found annoyingly bright in the theater and in the lounges. The theater aisles have steps that are poorly illuminated as one enters toward the stage (though the steps are evident as one moves out of the theater or away from the stage). Why this problem hasn’t been fixed with even a temporary measure of colored tape on the edge of the steps is unclear. There are staircases up to the upper balcony that had pieces of a kind of fluorescent-appearing tape on them that obviously were a temporary fix. The step problem looked like a lawsuit just waiting to happen to me. I think the upper balcony design on Regent’s other ships is better than the Explorer
I found the amplification of sound for live music performances to be annoyingly loud in the theater and in the lounges.
I didn’t care much for the musical extravaganzas. The choreography often seemed as if there was a contest to see how many intricate dance steps could be squeezed in every minute—a sort of frenetic quality. While the dancers were excellent, the selection of music and choreography just didn’t seem to come together, at least for my taste. I think the traditional Jean Ann Ryan shows from other cruises were quite a bit better. The individual performers such as the comedian and the cruise director were far more entertaining.
The internet worked (slowly) most of the time, but not all of the time. The speed is certainly nothing like Regent claims on its website: "high-speed WiFi that is similar to that of your fiber-optic network at home.” In addition certain websites or downloads are blocked. For example, I couldn’t update apps on my IPhone or download a new app. Regent still doesn’t have a method for letting guests know when the internet is not working so lots of time can be wasted trying to go to websites or troubleshoot connections, only to find out later that the internet is down.
In summary, I would say that the the F1 cabin and its large balcony are significantly better than the various penthouse suites I have been on in all the other Regent ships. The food was improved from past cruises, but if the menus on the other ships are all being made similar, this may not be a difference in the future. If two Regent ships had the same itinerary, I would probably choose the Explorer because of the cabin design—at least in the F1 category. On the other hand, if the itinerary was in a tropical area, I might opt for one of the other Regent ships because of the kind of closed-in feeling of the pool deck.